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Cavaliers apparently resting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love against Heat

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The Cavaliers appear set on a decision that will send shockwaves through the Eastern Conference.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

The Cavaliers will sit LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love tonight against the Heat in apparent choice of rest for the playoffs over continuing the fight for the No. 1 seed.

The Cavs are planning to start J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and Deron Williams against the Heat, who need to win to keep pace with the Bulls for the eighth seed.

Cleveland’s lineup listed above was posted as part of the team’s media notes for tonight’s game and is subject to change.

This is huge for the Cavaliers, who are tied with the Celtics for the Eastern Conference’s best record. Cleveland has the tiebreaker, but this makes a loss to Miami – and falling to the No. 2 seed – far more likely. The Cavs lost twice to the Hawks over the weekend with LeBron (88 minutes), Irving (78 minutes) and Love (77 minutes) carrying huge loads. The Cavaliers just showed they could wallop the Celtics in Boston, so perhaps rest is more valuable than home-court advantage in that potential Eastern Conference finals matchup.

This is huge for the Celtics, who could gain the No. 1 seed. Boston closes by hosting the Nets and Bucks. The Celtics

This is huge for the Raptors, who are locked into the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Though they present a more formidable threat to Cleveland, they’re still unlikely to beat the Cavs. Now, that matchup is more likely to come in the second round – and look like a step back for Toronto, which lost to the Cavaliers in last year’s conference finals.

This is huge for Wizards, who are guaranteed the No. 4 seed. If the Cavs fall to the second seed, Washington would avoid the defending champs until the conference finals.

This is huge for the Hawks, Bucks, Pacers and Bulls, who are all jockeying for seeds 5-8. If they can swing it, they’ll try harder to avoid No. 7 and a first-round matchup with Cleveland. It’s especially big for Miami, which is currently tied for eighth but doesn’t have the tiebreaker against Chicago.

Of course, the Cavaliers sitting their stars doesn’t guarantee the Heat a win tonight. They’ll have to earn it on the court.

That task just looks much easier now.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.